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While preparing for a business trip to Louisville, Kentucky, I was surprised to discover that the Sons of the American Revolution Library was just down the street from my hotel.  I have recently found some evidence that individuals in my “new” lines of my grandfather’s Baldwin and Spaulding ancestors served as Massachusetts Minutemen during the Revolutionary War, and I was eager to see if I could learn more.

Sons of the American Revolution Library, 809 W Main St, Louisville

The Library

The Library moved two years ago to a location on West Main Street’s “Museum Row” – a neighborhood filled with museums, school buses, families, and a surprising amount of statuary.   If you are ever looking for the library, it’s impossible to miss because it’s right across the street from the Louisville Slugger factory and museum and there is a giant, and I mean giant, baseball bat in front of that building.  So, look for the giant bat.  Eventually, the SAR hopes to fill the rest of the building they’re in with a museum of their own.  I think that’s a wonderful idea.

As I said, you can’t miss it

I emailed the head of the library, Michael Christian, in advance to make sure the library would be open during normal hours that week and to ask him if he would mind if I took some pictures.  He said it was fine.

I managed to visit the library on Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning.  Admission is $5 for non-members.  The receptionist was very nice and showed me a locker for my belongings.  I brought in only a notebook and my camera.  Inside, I met Mr. Christian and he gave me a tour and we talked about the research I was doing.

The books are neatly arranged on two floors

The library did not disappoint.  It’s quite new, of course, but above and beyond that it has a clean, orderly, uncluttered atmosphere unusual in a genealogy library.  The collection of books is focused on American history, genealogy, and local history. Many sets of books that I had seen elsewhere just looked better at the SAR Library thanks, I suspect, to a significant amount of re-binding which kept the books in excellent shape.  Pretty much all areas of the country are covered but I never ventured past the New England section.  There were compiled military indexes, such as the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War.

The Rhode Island section of the local history books

There were far more family genealogies than I expected.  I welcomed the chance to find something privately published that I may not have seen before; there could be clues in such a book.  That didn’t really happen, except for one manuscript about the Lampheres that I had previously only seen online.

There were some resources available on the computers, and I looked up SAR applications related to people in my family.  I found four that I wanted to see, and the microfilm was brought to me.  The microfilm equipment was quite nice, by the way.  I paid for the pages I printed.

What I Found

My grandfather Miles Baldwin had a grandfather named Edward Baldwin.  The people on the list below are Edward Baldwin’s great-grandfathers from northern Middlesex County, Massachusetts.  This is what I have seen about my Massachusetts Militia ancestors:

John Emery (1753-1828) of Townsend, Mass.  From SAR application #55064:

  • Private in Captain James Hosley’s company of minute men, Col. William Prescott’s regiment, who marched to Cambridge on the alarm of April 19, 1775.  Service, 9 days. [note:  on that date, the Battles of Lexington and Concord began the Revolutionary War; called by Emerson “the shot heard round the world.”]
  • Private in Captain Henry Farwell’s Company, Col. William Prescott’s regiment, enlisted April 25, 1775.  Service, 98 days.
  • Private in Capt. Zachariah Fitch’s company, Col. Samuel Brewer’s regiment, enlisted August 23, 1776, discharged September 30, 1776.  Service, one month, nine days.
  • Corporal in Capt. John Minot’s Company, Col Josiah Whitney’s regiment; arrived at Rhode Island May 10, 1777; discharged July 9, 1777, service, two months, ten days.
  • No address given, but the company was raised in Townsend and nearby towns,  Third Corporal in Capt. Aaron Jewett’s company, Col. Job Cushing’s regiment, enlisted July 27, 1777; discharged August 29, 1777.  Service, one month, 10 days.
  • Private in Capt. James Hosley’s company of volunteers, Col. Jonathan Reed’s regiment, enlisted September 26, 1777; discharged November 2, 1777.  Service, one month, 15 days.

Benjamin Spaulding (1743-1832) of Townsend, Mass.  (page 108 of  The Spalding Memorial by Samuel Spalding, the standard Spaulding/Spalding genealogy, mentions that he was a school teacher, and three of his daughters also followed that profession).  From Mass. Soldiers & Sailors of the RW, vol. 14, p. 686:

  • Sergeant, Capt James Hosley’s co of Minutemen, Colonel William Prescott’s regt., which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775, to Cambridge; discharged May 4, 1775; service, 18 days, reported returned home.

David Baldwin (1734-1824) of Billerica, Townsend and Pepperell, Mass.  Appears in SAR application #87616:

  • Private, Capt. William Greenleaf’s co., Col. Job Cushing’s Regt.; enlisted Sept 3, 1777, discharged Nov 22, 1777, service, 3 mos. 7 days.  Roll dated Lancaster.  Private, Mass. Militia.

Reuben Gashet/Gasset/Gaschet (1754-1822) of Hopkinton, Westborough and Townsend, Mass.  From Mass. Soldiers & Sailors of the RW, vol. 6, p. 304-5:

  • Private, Capt. Seth Morse’s co., Major Genl Ward’s regt., which marched on the alarm of April 19, 1775; service, 5 1/2 days
  • Private, Capt Moses Wheelock’s co., Col. Jonathan Ward’s regt.; muster roll dated Aug 1, 1775; enlisted April 24, 1775; service 3 mos. 15 days, also, company return [probably Oct. 1775]
Next Steps
  • Continue to search and evaluate the Mass. Soldiers and Sailors volumes (which are available online), where most of the data used in these SAR applications is from.  Chart the regiments and units mentioned.
  • Follow up on another source mentioned in a SAR #15669 concerning John Emery:  “Rev. Rolls, Mass. Archives, vol. 12, p. 115, vol. 19, p. 177.”  The Massachusetts State Archives is located in Dorchester.
  • Many pre-1970 SAR applications are now found on Ancestry.com so I can continue to access them.
  • Likewise Ancestry.com also houses some Revolutionary War rolls and I will continue to explore them.
  • Mr. Christian made a good suggestion about exploring town histories that include military information.  One such book that I have used is Sawtelle’s History of the Town of Townsend.
  • I believe the only soldier mentioned here who got a pension (it went to his widow) was John Emery.  I will continue to investigate pension records on Fold3.com and other places.
  • Continue reading two books that are throwing a lot of light on this subject:  “1776” by David McCullough and “The Minutemen and Their World” by Robert A. Gross.

Just a little more proof and this guy will be my ancestor!

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drawing from Edward Eggleston A First Book in American History (New York: American Book Company, 1889) 117

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